May 20, 2014 / 4:30 PM / in 4 years

Vaz wins Guinea-Bissau presidential run-off: elections commission

BISSAU (Reuters) - Former Finance Minister Jose Mario Vaz has won a high-stakes presidential run-off election in Guinea-Bissau meant to draw a line under a 2012 coup, the elections commission said on Tuesday.

Vaz, the candidate of the dominant African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), took 61.9 pct of votes, defeating Nuno Gomes Nabiam, an independent considered close to the army, who garnered 38.1 percent.

Guinea-Bissau’s last election in 2012 was abandoned after soldiers under army chief Antonio Injai stormed the presidential palace just days before another PAIGC candidate, Carlos Gomes Junior, appeared poised for victory in a scheduled run-off.

Sunday’s election was intended to end a transitional period that followed the military takeover and help the country repair frayed relations with its regional and international partners.

“The electoral process was long, but the first round was crowned a success as was the second round,” Augusto Mendes, the president of the elections commission, said during the announcement of the results in the capital Bissau.

Turnout for the election was 78.1 percent, down from the nearly 90 percent recorded in last month’s first round vote.

An observer mission from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said on Monday the voting itself was transparent and credible.

European Union elections observers had earlier said that voting on the day had taken place without major incident.

Guinea-Bissau’s supreme court must now validate the election results before they become official. It is expected to do so in the coming days.

Weak state institutions, along with its maze of islands and unpoliced mangrove creeks, have made the former Portuguese colony a paradise for smugglers of Latin American cocaine destined for Europe.

Since Guinea-Bissau won independence in 1974, no elected leader has completed a five-year term and analysts say donors and regional powers who have been bankrolling the interim administration are frustrated with the recurrent crises.

Reporting by Alberto Dabo; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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